3:18 PM

Canadian politics

Is anyone else other than me really interested by what's going on right now? For the first time in a while, it feels like the whole country is gripped by what is happening in Ottawa. Even the election didn't seem to stir this much buzz!

I think it's quite fascinating that our Governor General, a post which is largely supposed to be ceremonial, is about to be launched into a setting where she could decide the fate of the nation. Could you even imagine what it must be like to be her right now?! Talk about pressure situation. The most likely scenario is that Parliament will be suspended and we'll wait until the New Year to see what happens, but still!

No matter what happens, you can't say it's not exciting!!

1:41 PM

House hunting

So, Jamie and I are now starting our little journey into house hunting. We're easing ourselves into it, and taking our time. Our agent has been sending us listings that meet our (rather loose) criteria, and we're starting to go see some that look interesting on paper.

A couple weeks ago, we went to an open house for a place on Larchmount, which is in Leslieville. Pros: Lovely hardwood floors, nice design, lots of storage in the kitchen, close to the Purple Purl. Cons: Main floor was too much like a condo, no stairs to basement, almost no storage space outside the kitchen, would need lots of work to convert apartment basement back to a regular basement. It was also right next to a school, and when I say right next to, I mean sharing the chain link fence type of right next to.

Last weekend, we checked out two houses in the west end: one at Runnymede and Bloor, the other close to Keele and Bloor. Both of them were older houses, and would need some work. The one at Runnymede had some weirdness happening in the basement with the drains, and we didn't like the kitchen. Also, somehow their realtor had failed to mention to the owners that we'd be coming to see the house, so it was all awkward because they were still at home. Made it really hard to say much about the place. The other house was really nice -- liked the kitchen, loved the front and backyard, nice layout, super location. Except it had one really major thing against it. It was crooked. The house is built on a hill, and you could feel the incline of it in various rooms in the house. Crossing a room, it felt very much like walking on the deck of a ship. Our agent said he'd never seen anything like it. We all had a good laugh walking through the place, and boy was it a good thing that no one was home.

The listings keep coming though, so I'm sure you'll hear more about our house hunting adventures!

3:24 PM

Dancing the nights away

So, I thought I'd write a little bit about some dance happenings going on for me right now. I suppose this is mainly for Carolyn so I can keep her up to date on what's going on with CDW. As some of you might already know, CDW (Chinese Dance Workshop) is planning to put on a show in the fall of 2009. Because our teacher is heading back to Hong Kong at the end of October, we have a lot of things we need to do before she leaves, most of which being LEARNING NEW DANCES!!

Last Friday, we already started a new dance, and I'm super excited about it. It's a Dai peacock dance done to music from the movie Kong Que Gong Zhou (The Peacock Princess). It turns out that Mme Fong choreographed the dances in that movie! She was even telling us a story of how she was the dance double for the lead actress during all the spinning required. Pretty cool, huh? Anyway, we've only just started this dance, but I'm already loving it.

Mme Fong has also asked that we add a rehearsal on Saturday in order to pack a few more things in. Do you remember the Xing Jiang teens dance that opened the 2002 show? It was called Dance of the Flowers. Well, we're going to be re-vamping that one for the senior girls (though they're now called the youth class) and young adults. The other old dance that she's thinking of having the young adults do again is the cape one. Either that, or some Mongolian one - she hasn't decided yet. Anyway, after we're done practicing that Flowers dance, the other adults are going to come, and we're going to learn yet another new dance. I don't know what it is just yet, but I guess I'll find out!

8:24 PM

Fastest cold ever

I think I must have caught the fastest clearing cold virus ever. Monday I woke up feeling rotten, so I decided that going to work wasn't happening. You know how a cold seems to migrate, and you have symptoms in different places over time? Well, I took naps on and off that day, and every time I woke up, it seemed like my cold had migrated to a different place. First it was sore throat, then headache and congestion, then runny nose and coughing, and then mild laryngitis. By the time I woke up on Tuesday, it seemed to have made the run though all the symptoms, and was feeling fine again.

Weird, huh?

9:46 PM


Work is stressful right now. In fact, this is possibly the first time I've felt that I may not actually finish what I need to in time. Actually, I take that back. When I was in school, I felt that way all the time, but it was okay because the only thing riding on it were my own marks. The fact that my work affects other people is what adds the stress factor. Oh well. I'm sure that with sufficient overtime, things'll pull through

In other news, another season of PushPULL is underway! Tonight was the first night of auditions, and it was lots of fun. I can't wait to go on Sunday. This weekend is really, really busy. I'm teaching a kids dance class, performing, then going to a bachelorette party on Saturday. On Sunday, I'm helping to clean out some CDW props at Cecil, going to Lorraine's baby shower, and then heading to auditions part II. Somewhere in there, I need to find time to do laundry and figure out what we're going to eat next week. Time to put on the productive hat!!

9:25 AM

Chocolate and friends

Since we were on break from dance class, and I had a Friday off for the first time in a while, I decided to invite some friends over for some take-out Thai (thank you, Salad King), and hanging out. Flush with success from the chocolate class with Becky, I decided to get some supplies of my own and try my hand at making some chocolate-covered strawberries.

Here's the 'before' shot.

And now the 'after' shot.

Things I learned:
1) Strawberries that are too ripe are not good to use for this purpose. They get extremely hard to handle.
2) The digital thermometer that I use when roasting meat is not good for chocolate. I don't think the chocolate I used for the strawberries was tempered quite properly, and that proved to be the case when I found some blooming on the chocolate after I chilled the finished berries.

With the left-over chocolate, I decided to melt it again, and re-temper it. This time, I did it without the thermometer, and tried to go on what I remembered about how the chocolate felt when we had our class. I don't think I got it quite right, but it was better than the stuff I used on the berries. I used this chocolate to make chili pepper bark. Yum!

What would a party be without party games? Greg's gift of Rock Band has been great.
I think Richard wins the 'Best Rocker Face' award. Aaron got pretty creative, playing the drums like tom-toms. He and Jia were a pretty good team, playing the drums together.

A super fun evening! Thank everyone!!

6:11 PM

Last little bit of Japan, and cooking with beets

So, I apologize for not quite wrapping up my travels properly. Jamie's now put all the photos from the last leg of our trip onto his laptop, and I didn't get a chance to get at them before he took them off his camera. I'll try to upload them to my Flickr account eventually, but no promises as to when that will happen. In summary, I met up with some friends of mine (Josh and Dan) on the Monday for some city fun. We went to the Ghibli Museum first. For those of you who are fans of movies like Princess Mononoke and Spirited away, you'll recognize the name of the studio. For those of you who aren't, it's considered the Japanese version of Disney. The museum is about 40 minutes away from Tokyo, and well worth the trip if you're a fan of animation. We got there a little early, so took a walk around and stumbled upon a local school festival, which was quite an amusing slice of Japanese life. After the museum, we had lunch before heading to a yarn store that I was looking for in particular (yes, I specifially went shopping for yarn in Japan). After that, we hit a karaoke place, because you can't go to Japan and not karaoke. Last stop was all-you-can-eat yakiniku (Korean BBQ). Yum! The next day, we went to the town where Josh lives and works, Tochigi. It's about an hour and half away from Tokyo by train. Josh picked us up there in his new car (a Vitz, which is what they call the Yaris in Japan), and we were off to Nikko. First stop, a fabulous nature walk. After that, we visited a whole series of fantastic waterfalls before being treated to a yuba croquette. Yuba is tofu skin and really yummy. We tried to go to the Toshogu Shrine, but because it was the day after a national holiday, we discovered that it was closed when we got there. Oh well! Yummy dinner at a traditional Japanese restaurant, and then on the train to head back to Tokyo. The next day we were on our way to Izunokuni for some soaking in hot springs, and enjoying some quiet time outside the bustling city. Nice views of Mt Fuji, relaxing baths, and great food. After that, it was home to Toronto!

Today, I tried cooking with beets for the first time.
As you an tell, it's not exactly a success. The beets dyed the sausage red (it looks more red in real life than the photo shows). It doesn't taste that bad, but it's just not the best combination I've ever thought of. Oh well. Jamie opted to have instant noodles though. Haha!

7:51 AM

A few chill-out days

After the excitement of Disney, Jamie and I needed a few days to kick back and relax. On the Wednesday after Disney Sea, we just walked around to check the Shinjuku area, which is where our hotel is.
We aren't sure what this building is just yet. It was just built, and it's still empty inside.

Not far from us is the Metropolitan building, which is like city hall. There are free elevators that you can ride up to the top of each of the north and south towers.

That night, we took it easy, and just strolled around Akihabara, the renowned electronics paradise. No buying though, just some scoping out.

On Thursday, we went out to Yokohama for the day.
That little water taxi is called the Sea Bass here. We're sure that what they actually meant was Sea BUS, but got the translation from Japanese phonetic to English wrong.

On Saturday, we went to this amazing spa park near Hakone. No photos, but here's a link to the place we went to. We had a super relaxing time!

Sunday, I met up with my friend Jamie, and enjoyed a trip to a chocolate cafe! So yummy!
We then trolled through Akihabara, down the back alleys looking for good deals. We bought a new 4GB USB drive, and an R4 chip for our Nintendo DS.
We had a great time hanging out together!

Tomorrow, we're off to the Ghibli Museum! Yay!

6:06 AM

Disney Sea - the real post

Okay, here's my post for real. First off, I gotta say that I loved, loved, LOVED Disney Sea. The park is absolute beautiful.

Mediterranean Harbour
Mystery Island, which is pretty much a replica of Vulcania from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Arabian Coast, which is patterned after Agrabah from Aladdin
Mermaid Lagoon, with the impressive castle from The Little Mermaid
Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull, the adventure ride (super fun!)
This ride is unique to Disney Sea considering Disney never made a Sinbad cartoon. I totally loved this ride thanks to its insane cuteness.
This ride comes complete with an Alan Menken composed song that plays through the ride quite the same way It's A Small World does for the ride of its namesake. The song is really catchy, and after riding Sinbad twice, I had it quite stuck in my head - and still do!

They even have some really impressive water shows in the middle of the harbour. We got some photos of The Legend of Mythica, but not of the evening BraviSEAmo show (too dark for good photos).
And wow, were those jet-ski riders impressive!

The Explorers Fortress was super fun - there were all sort of Da Vinci replicas around for us to play with!
A huge Foucalt's Pendulum
Jamie's personal favourite: an orrery!

As you can see, this version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is quite different from the US version. You can even control little spotlights to put attention on all sorts of different things. Super fun!

The front of quite possibly our favourite ride in the park - Storm Rider!


Bye-bye, Tokyo Disney! We had a super-duper time!!

7:07 AM

Disney Sea

Sorry folks, but I'm feeling lazy right now. Disney Sea was completely amazing, with some of the best theme-ing I've ever seen in a park (and no, it's not a Marineland type of place). I'm going to direct you to my Flickr photostream of the photos we took there. I'll write a bit more about it another time. It really was an amazing place, with lots of fun and unique rides, and I highly recommend it to everyone.

Click here to see our photos.

6:05 AM

Tokyo Disneyland!!

Okay. I love Disney stuff. And when I say love it, I mean I LOVE it. Considering the crowds we saw, I'd have to say that lots of Japanese (and Korean and Chinese) people love Disney too. This year is the 25th anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland, and there was a lot around to remind us of it.

We got a two-day pass, one day at Tokyo Disneyland, and one day at Disney Sea. We spent our first day at Disneyland, which is pretty much made up of Fantasyland and Tomorrowland from Disney World. Lots of familiar things, and some new things too. Click this link to see my entire Flickr photostream for Disneyland. Here's the "highlight reel".

(Our awesome river guide on the Jungle Cruise)
(This car drives around spraying people with water to keep them cool)
(The front of It's a Small World)
(Me buying some of the most awesome dessert in the park - frozen mango)
(Pooh's Hunny Hunt is one of the unique rides to Disney Tokyo. They don't allow pictures inside, unlike other rides. This ride is INCREDIBLY popular - you honestly won't believe it. It was seriously the longest line in the entire two parks that we experienced. We learned later that of all the rides, this is the one that they recommend getting a Fast Pass for. Pooh is a super, super popular character here. I think Stitch comes second.)

There was also a lot of different headgear available that was really just super adorable.
(Pooh ears)
(Haunted Mansion Minnie)
(Pirates of the Caribbean)
(Waiting for the night show to start by the castle. They have a neat system here for how they decide where you can sit for the show. You enter a lottery where you can get seats in the reserved area, a spot in the reserved standing area, or nothing, in which case you have to fend for yourself. We were lucky enough to get seats in the centre front section!!)

Next post, Disney Sea!!

8:17 AM

New and Old

On Saturday, Jamie and I headed over to Odaiba, which is made completely out of reclaimed land. It's a mecca of shopping and entertainment, and attracts both tourists and locals alike. To get there, you take an unmanned train that runs on rubber tires, and not a regular track.

Some scenes from Odaiba...
(Beach volleyball anyone? As you can probably tell, it was a super hot day)

Being a super hot day, we decided that we needed some refuge from the sun and humidity. Good thing we weren't too far from Decks and Aqua City (two really big malls).
As you can see from the photo, the Sega Joypolis was just waiting for us to visit, so who were we to say no? After all, what trip to Japan is complete without a plethora of video games?
Joypolis actually had a lot more than just video games; it also had some really great simulator rides which I enjoyed a lot.

Odaiba is also the home of Fuji TV, a really big ferris wheel, and something called The Big Sight.

Today, we took a 3.5 hour Shinkansen (aka Bullet Train) ride to Himeji so we could see the Himeji Castle, which is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Originally built in the 1300's, it was demolished then rebuilt in 1580 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It remained in use until 1868, then restored in 1956 to its current condition. With its white walls and unique architecture, the castle is supposed to give one the impression of a white heron in flight. Visitors are allowed to walk around the grounds, as well as in the main tower, and a few other satellite buildings, though be prepared to remove your shoes upon entering.

Guess they weren't that tall back then.
Some of the various family crests adorning the castle.
Jamie and the Main Tower.
A small door leading to a hidden room where soliders could lie in wait for any invaders who might have made it that far, or where supplies could be stored.
A view from the top.
The entranceway to the castle complex.

Tomorrow and Tuesday - Disneyland and Disney Sea!!